Understory is first company to partner with City program to pilot new technologies and hold events connecting green tech companies with municipal officials, other industries

SOMERVILLE – The City of Somerville will soon be receiving hyper-local weather and temperature data that can be used for purposes ranging from planning snow clearing to analyzing localized climate change effects, thanks to their new Somerville GreenTech Program. The new green tech initiative offers companies the opportunity to pilot their green products and services in Somerville, while holding events to bring green technology innovators together with municipal officials and other industries—all in an effort to make Somerville a resilient and carbon neutral city.
Somerville-based startup Understory, a weather analytics company, recently installed solar-powered weather stations on two Somerville schools close to the company’s offices in Greentown Labs. The hyper-local weather data gathered will be used by the City and will also be publicly accessible online. It is the inaugural project in the Somerville GreenTech Program, which challenged green tech companies to give their best product pitch as part of a Request for Information (RFI) issued last fall. The GreenTech Program aims to meet both the needs of emerging green tech companies and the City’s sustainability goals.
“We’ve been searching for local areas to deploy our stations, but it’s been difficult to find them since most private companies lease their buildings,” said Alex Kubicek, Chief Executive Officer of Understory. “This pilot is a huge help to our hardware development, since the weather stations are local to where we work and live, allowing us to make continuous improvements to the stations. We’re also glad that we can give back to the city by providing data support for its clean tech initiatives.”
“We’ve set an ambitious goal to reduce our carbon emission to a net-zero level in the next 35 years, to increase our community’s resilience to climate change and improve our residents’ quality of life,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “With many of the pilot-ready technologies today designed for use in buildings, it’s a no-brainer to use our buildings and facilities as an urban laboratory, so we can be first in line for technologies that could help us achieve our sustainability goals while also supporting local innovators that are a significant part of the 21st century economy. Doing social good and building sustainable economies are not mutually exclusive.”

First GreenTech-Municipal Event Planned for June
Through the RFI, the City learned that pilot technologies, raising visibility, and networking are top priorities for green tech companies. So in addition to running pilot programs, based on the high level of interest expressed by respondents in City-organized events, the Somerville GreenTech Program will help host gatherings that connect green tech innovators with municipal officials, investors, local businesses and manufacturers, and local developers.
The first event is planned for late June in partnership with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) Massachusetts as First Customer program, which facilitates the adoption of innovative energy and water technologies by public entities. Hosted in Somerville, this event will bring together officials from area municipalities with companies in MassCEC’s program as well as other companies with commercial-ready products. The goal is to raise the profile of municipal-ready technologies while providing a forum for city and industry officials to exchange opportunities and challenges. Companies that are not yet part of Massachusetts as a First Customer are invited to contact MassCEC at for more information. Details of the event will be available at
The City plans to hold another event later in 2015, and themes for future events may include the local real estate development industry, clean energy data, and city programs for technology startups, such as the Somerville Innovation Business Loan Program.
“There are already many exceptional organizations that hold these kinds of events, so our goal is to play a role in events that connect the green tech industry with people in ways that they are not already being served, where Somerville is unique in providing the connection, and where we can be engaged in the conversation,” said Oliver Sellers-Garcia, City Director of Sustainability and Environment. “Providing these opportunities is a wise investment in our contribution to the global environment, and in our local economy.”
More to pilot projects to come
The City aims to identify two more pilot projects in 2015 from the RFI respondents and other organizations and programs that have valuable experience in the green tech industry. Those organizations and programs include the Catalyst Program, administered by the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center; Cleanteach Navigate Northeast, organized by the New England Clean Energy Council; InnovateMass, run by MassCEC; and TechBridge, a program of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems CSE. The TechBridge Program works with early-stage companies to commercialize green technology, and will partner with the City to help it assess opportunities for pilot projects by advising on each project’s viability and how the pilot is designed to move the project along to its next stage of development or commercialization.
Together with these respected organizations, the City is putting in place a network of partnerships that will continue keep Somerville a leading test-bed for the emerging technologies that will contribute to solving our planet’s greatest challenges.

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